RLC in the Media: Law on Police Using Body Worn Cameras in NSW

The Attorney General, Mark Speakman has rejected calls to require police to hand over body-worn video footage.


Poppy Morandin writes for Lexology.

NSW Greens MLC David Shoebridge wrote to Mr Speakman in February of last year regarding the difficulty encountered by individuals seeking to obtain footage that they themselves are featured on.

The effect of the current legislation means that in the event a party wants to make a complaint against police, it is often hard to get the footage that may form the basis of their claim.

We most recently followed up this with the Attorney after it was brought to us by a constituent because it was a direct obstacle to justice in their case. It’s an issue we have raised concerns about since the cameras were rolled out.” explained Mr Shoebridge.

The idea that police are freely able to record members of the public who then cannot obtain copies of those recording to mount their own defence or for other reasons is plainly absurd. It is a policy designed to protect police, not protect the public.” he continued.

Natalie Ward, Parliamentary Secretary to the Attorney General responded on his behalf, nearly a year after the original correspondence.

In the case of police body-worn video, there is a general prohibition on the disclosure of this information under the Surveillance Devices Act 2007, with limited and strictly defined exceptions. This prohibition is considered appropriate given the sensitive nature of the information.” detailed Mrs Ward.

Mrs Ward furthermore referenced a recent statutory review of the police body worn video provisions of the Surveillance Devices Act 2007.

However, Shoebridge contended that the review: “focuses heavily on how the rollout of cameras impacted on police, not on the broader public.”

Part 5.3 of the report details the concerns raised by almost all the organisations who made submissions (except the police force) regarding the release of footage.

These organisations include the Aboriginal Legal Service (ALS), Redfern Legal Centre (RLC) and the Law Society of NSW.

ALS and RLC submitted that access to footage is routinely denied to complainants of police misconduct…inequality of access to police body-worn footage contributes to the power imbalance between complainants and investigators and leads to dissatisfaction with complaint outcomes.” it detailed.

Read full story here: (Lexology, 24 January 2021)